Atlanta — The Atlanta courthouse gunman who killed a judge and three other people avoided a death sentence Friday when jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision on his sentence.
Superior Court Judge James Bodiford is required by state law to sentence Brian Nichols to life, and will decide in a hearing scheduled for Saturday morning whether that will include the possibility of parole. It is likely Nichols would spend the rest of his life behind bars regardless of the decision.
Prosecutors had urged jurors to sentence Nichols to death after he was convicted last month of murder and dozens of other counts in the 2005 killings. The 37-year-old was on trial for rape when he grabbed a guard’s gun and fatally shot the judge, a court reporter and a sheriff’s deputy at the courthouse. He fled and killed a federal agent in an Atlanta neighborhood.